Image Tips

Darker Skin Tones and Hair Color

Dear Kathi,

I have attached a picture of me, please tell me what color would look best with my skin tone. I want to go lighter, maybe honey blonde or a lighter brown with highlights, what do you think would look best?
Erika J. Rivera
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Major Crimes Section


It would help to see your hair down in natural lighting in order to be certain about my reccomendation. With this photo as the example, I would suggest keeping your hair dark black or dark brown. If you want to weave in highlights, use a caramel or wheat highlight color. Both of these look great on darker hair.

If you decide to go light brown or blonde, you will not find any consumer mix light enough so don’t even think about trying to do it on your own. My makeover hairstylist, Lisa Knight of Orange Salon, says that you will end up with an unpleasant ginger color. If you do go blonde, you will absolutely have to step up your makeup routine and wear (at the minimum) eyeliner and mascara all of the time to pull it off.

Have fun and send me your ‘after’ photo!

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Image Tips for Men

Polo Shirt

Dear Kathi,

I often wear ties to business receptions. I always wonder how high or low I should wear my tie clip.

How do I know if a pair of shoes goes well with a suit?

Also, I have a question about polo shirts. Should I wear a t-shirt with my polo shirt? Does it matter if I wear it with or without a tee? Do I tuck them into my jeans?

James, San Diego


Tie clips are now back in style! Wear your clip at mid center by button holes 4-5 midway between your pec and your abs. For a younger look, you can wear it placed between the third and fourth button of the shirt and angled slightly down. Whether or not to angle your tie clip is always controversial and has been seen latley in fashion for younger men. Always choose a tie clip that is narrower than the tie.

You can also use a tie tack. Choose a simple design and secure it from 1/3 to less than 1/2 the distance below the knot.

The shoes that go best with suits will have leather soles and hand stitching. Wingtips are always a safe bet as they go well with suits and more casual sport coats. A tuxedo can dress up an Oxford. Oxfords also look sophisticated and fabulous with a suit. The Cap-Toe Oxford, the more casual version of the original Oxford, sometimes has tiny holes along the seam.Choose a shoe that is darker in color than the suit. Coordinate with the neutral color of the suit. For instance, if your suit is brown, wear brown or cordovan shoes. If it is black, wear black shoes. Navy suits can be paired with black or dark cordovan shoes.

Socks should be matched to your slacks, not your shoes. This will give you an elongated leg line.

Polos can be worn with or without a t-shirt. If you choose to wear a t-shirt, wear both shirts untucked. Never tuck both in at the same time, always keeping the polo on top, untucked.

When layering shirts, wearing the darkest color on top makes them easy to coordinate. You can wear a lighter color shirt on top, but have to consider whether or not the shirt below shows through, which makes the whole process of getting dressed more complicated.

Layering is currently in style, and also provides versatile climate control, especially with the temperature variations throughout the day in San Diego. So live it up and layer!

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Dressing Casual at Work

Business Casual

Our style of dressing at work and elsewhere becomes our trademark. We get used to wearing certain types of clothes and if there’s a change in dress policy at work, which forces us to change, we get kind of lost, and wonder what to do. For example, take the case of Diane. Diane is 46 years old, and has been wearing jeans to work for the longest time. A new rule has made it compulsory to dress casual, and no denims. Diane seems to be quite perplexed. She can’t imagine what she’ll do without her comfy jeans. Well, right now she has no choice but to follow the rules. One of Diane’s problems is that in her office the heat and A/C are not really controlled. Thus in Winter, it ends up being too hot and in Summer it’s icy cool. What’s confusing her is that she has no idea what to wear, so that she doesn’t end up being too hot or too cold throughout the day. In a way, that’s understandable, since we always want to be comfortable on the job.

Kathi Burns, a Professional Image Consultant and Board Certified Organizer, gives sound advice to Diane. Kathi says, that the best thing to do is go for layers!

She explains that there are a variety of different lightweight sweater fabrics that are available in the market. You can wear a couple, then as the temperature in the office raises or lowers, you can either remove some layers, or put on extras. The trick is to buy different sleeve lengths, and it’s best that the last layer, that is the first you put on, is a sleeveless shell.

Another thing to watch out for when layering are the necklines. Your tops should not compete with each other. Strong colors are easy to mix and match. If you’re wearing a printed top, it’s best to keep it simple and basic. It’s also preferable that you use the same color family as the other layers, and restrict the print to one layer only.

Yet another thing that you can use to your advantage is a ‘shirt jacket’. These shirt jackets are essentially shirts that you put over sweaters or other shirts. Most often these shirts have button fronts, shirt tail hems and long sleeves. These are handy to keep at the office, in case you find it getting too chilly for comfort. You can then throw it on to keep you warm.

True, it’s hard to replace jeans. But you could try a sleek pair of tweed slacks or a classy corduroy. In fact, if you get something that you’re comfortable with, you won’t miss your jeans. A good thing about tweed is that it does not wrinkle easily and it won’t go out of style. It’s important that you take time to find the perfect fit and invest in the best fabric. You should note that there are different types of tweeds. Go for the heavier tweeds with lining if it’s too cold. The lightweight tweeds are best for a hot climate.

Another useful tip is keeping a pair of socks at work. Whenever your toes are feeling the chill, just slip on a pair to feel warm. Though it’ll be a little tricky finding shoes that you can wear with or without socks. While flat mules may be comfy, it’s best to wear them without socks and slacks only!

Hopefully these tips will give you a strong head start. Over time, you’ll be able to explore and hone in on your style and most importantly find out what you are comfortable wearing. Spend the time to buy the right clothes for your body and lifestyle, It’s a solid investment for career advancement and increased self-esteem.

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Lupita Nyong’o looks radiant in teal

Lupita Nyongo in teal

Lupita Ngony’o wore a stunning teal Gucci dress to the SAG Awards this year. This is a perfect example of how gorgeous bright colors can look on darker skin tones. She also pulls off matching teal eyeshadow without looking overdone or too matchy. If you have dark skin, you may find that you can easily pull off bold colors that might overwhelm other people’s complexions. The key is finding colors that complement your skintone and make you look healthy and radiant, rather than washing you out.

No matter how light or dark your features are, you are most likely either ‘cool’ or ‘warm’ toned, and will find these colors complement you accordingly. The easiest way to determine this is to pull your hair away from your face, take off any makeup or jewely, and drape colored cloth around your face to see which colors make you look healthy and radiant, and which colors make you look washed out, grey, or sickly. You may want to enlist a friend or family member to help. Try colors like silver (cool) vs. gold (warm). Or a bright orangey red (warm) vs. magenta or violet (cool). Try bright crisp white (cool) vs. ivory or offwhite (warm). With enough tries, you should get a feel for whether you are warm or cool toned based on which colors really brighten up your features. Here’s a guide to warm and cool colors that should help:

Warm and Cool colors

Once you determine whether you are warm or cool toned, try experimenting with bright, bold colors when shopping for tops, dresses, makeup, and statement jewelry. If you have dark skin, you may find your features really come alive and your skin looks radiant and glowing in bright, saturated tones of your best colors.

Celebrities in Bright Lipcolors

Keep an eye out for celebrities and models who share similar coloring to you and also look their best in these same colors. You can then do an image search for that person and see what they wore to different events. Celebrities have some of the best stylists and makeup artists working for them, especially for red carpet events. Take advantage of the work they’ve done to make this celebrity look their best, and try to replicate aspects of their look that you think works well for them.

Lupita Ngony'o Makeup

If you’re lucky enough to have similar coloring to Lupita, you’ve got a treasure trove of gorgeous looks to be inspired by. Keep an eye on this beautiful woman because she is consistently knocking it out of the park!

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Image makeovers


So you invested in a personal trainer to get your body in top condition. Now it’s time for the next step. Once your body has been given a makeover, it’s time to do the same for your image, and the person who can do that for you is a professional image consultant.

A top-flight image consultant can work her magic to make you look and feel your very best. She’ll upgrade your wardrobe and make sure that your clothes, hair and make-up all work together to create an image that will stop people in their tracks. When it comes to your wardrobe, the key is to find what clothes best fit your body size, shape and coloring. Everybody has some aspects of their body that they’re in love with, and others that they’re not on speaking terms with. A good image consultant will help you find ways to show off the things you love about your body and hide those things that you’re not so crazy about.

Did you know that most people only wear 20% of the clothes in their closet? That’s a pretty big waste of money. Your consultant will start by going through your closet and selecting those items that will make the folks at the Goodwill store very happy. She’ll also help you rehabilitate those clothes in your closet that will fit your new image, but have been neglected because they are in disrepair. It’s amazing what a good tailor or dry cleaner can do to bring your clothes back to life!

Then, after meeting with you and evaluating what kind of clothes are needed to create your new image, she’ll design a color palette best suited to you. Then it’s time for the fun part. It’s time to go shopping! She’ll help you choose pieces that you can mix-and-match to make an endless variety of stunning outfits for the new you. Once you’ve got the new wardrobe, she’ll guide you to other specialists who will make sure that your hair and make-up complete your new image. If need be, she’ll even help you with your optical needs.

Once armed with all your new knowledge, you’ll be ready to make much better decisions when shopping in the future. You’ll actually save money in the long run by getting your money’s worth out of each article of clothing, each accessory, and your make-up collection. An image consultant will not only help create a new stunning version of you, but she’ll prove to be one of the best investments you ever made in yourself.
by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
a Professional Organizing and Image Consulting Agency
Want to get better organized and look your best?
Get more quick tips by visiting the addSpace To Your Life!TM website.
Request Free addSpace eTips by clicking on the top right button.

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Choosing colors that enhance eyes

Patrick Stewart Headshot

Dear Advice,

Hello, I am writing because I am an actor and am gearing up for some new headshots. I don’t want to wear anything that detracts from my face, as the face is the focus of the headshot, however, I need help picking colors that work well with my fair skin (including completely bald head) and that bring out my green eyes. Can you help?

Glen A, Jr.


I highly recommend that you wear a solid green shirt. If your background will be white, choose a darker shade of green, it is a dark background for your headshot, wear a lighter solid green.

When you choose your shade of green, make sure that the green you buy brings out the color of your eyes and creates a healthy tone to your skin. To do this, ask your in-store helper if it is complimentary. Also, look for the shade that most closely aligns with your eye color. If your eyes have green/blue tint, choose a blue/green shirt. If green/hazel, look for a browner or more earthy green. If your eyes are golden green, choose a warmer green with golden tones.

To determine the color that will also work for your facial skin tone, hold it up to your face and see if your face recedes or moves forward in the mirror. You want your face to visually move closer when you bring the shirt up to it. If your face recedes, it is not a great color for you. This is tricky process, and where the skills of a professional image consultant are valuable.

To improve this skill on your own, choose two bold colors that are on opposite ends of the color spectrum. Hold each individually up to your face and watch what happens to your skin. The wrong color will make you look pale and emphasize the dark spots and imperfections on your face. The right color will make you look rested and healthy.

Your headshot is an important sales tool that will represent you in advance of your in-person meetings. There are many other variables to consider with your shirt other than the color. For instance, if the shirt you choose has a collar, does the collar work with your face shape? There are many collar styles, long and pointed, short and wide etc. You want to choose collars and necklines that compliment the structure of your face. The same applies to suit lapels.

If you are going with an athletic style headshot and you wear a collarless shirt, does the neckline flatter? What about make-up? As an actor, I am sure that you are aware of skin color correction techniques and eye enhancement tricks. If not, bring in a stylist for the session. Remember to have powder on hand during the shoot to reduce potential glare on your face and head.

Pay attention to your total look and make sure it highlights your best assets. Ask someone to help you as you make these decisions. A professional is always your best bet but if you are on a tight budget, enlist the help of an in-store sales associate as you select the perfect shirt.

Please email a copy of your new headshot when it is completed. I would love to see your finished product. Best of luck!

by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
a Professional Organizing and Image Consulting Agency
Want to get better organized and look your best?
Get more quick tips by visiting the addSpace To Your Life!TM website.
Request Free addSpace eTips by clicking on the top right button.

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Indispensable accessories for your “little black dress”

LBD accessories

Make Sure You Have A Perfect Silhouette

Use undergarments to enhance your shape and reel in the problem areas. Forgo the panty lines with a body smoother. Pay attention to your bra. Make sure it lifts and the straps are not visible. If you haven’t been fitted for a bra in over a year, it is time to reevaluate how gravity is working for you.

Invest In A Pair Of Elegant Party Shoes

Everyday shoes are not a suitable accompaniment to an evening dress. Buy a pair of neutral high-heeled evening shoes in the best quality you can afford. Keep them stored with a show tree to ward off wrinkles and creases. They will serve you at a moment’s notice and last for years. Make sure to wear them around the house before your first outing to make certain that your feet will not suffer during a long evening.

Purchase A Wrap That Coordinates With Your Dress

There is nothing worse than having the perfect dress and not being able to wear it because it is too cold outside or even inside in the air-conditioning. Choose a wrap that compliments your dress. Satin combines nicely with matte finished dresses, velvet works well with organza. You can also go festive with gold or silver wrap and shoes for the holidays. A large black cashmere shawl is super warm and always very elegant on crisp evenings.

Choose Hose That Compliment Your Outfit

The most sophisticated palette for hose is neutral. Choose un-patterned, skin-toned pantyhose in a sheer fabric with a low denier count. Denier demarks the fineness of the thread count. Although more fragile, wearing the finest possible thread count will help you look elegant and refined. Hose in your skin-tone are the perfect match with high heels and will help you become effortlessly elegant. If you feel you must wear black hose, buy them with a denier number that is less than 20.

Black Head To Toe?

Just because your dress is black, you are not required to wear black shoes and carry a black handbag. Experiment with colored accessories. Navy blue paired with black is extremely sophisticated. Gold or copper will add festivity to your overall image while silver requires a very discerning eye to remain elegant.

Keep Jewelry Simple And Elegant To Compliment Your Dress

Skip the wristwatch for your evening out. Instead choose rhinestone bangles or chandelier earrings. Remember to keep yourself classic by accessorizing only one area with bling. Don’t get carried away with glitz on shoes, arms, and neckline!

P.S. Have Your Dress Dry-cleaned After Each Use

If possible, store your dress flat in a large chest rather than hanging it on a hangar in your closet. Your drycleaner can wrap it flat upon request. Store it in a fabric sheath, not the plastic wrap from the drycleaners. Add a small sachet of potpourri so the garment smells fresh the next time you wear it.
Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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The essential “little black dress”


There really is a perfect “little black dress” for every figure, whether you are a size 0 or a size 18. The perfect dress will skim your body and highlight your best features. Other must-have qualities of the timeless ‘little black dress” will be simple lines, around knee length and figure flattering in all of the right places.

You can find the perfect dress for your body if you spend the time it takes to try on several styles, sleeve lengths and necklines. Keep these addSpace ‘tricks of the trade’ in mind while you shop for the perfect black dress.

Fit, Fit, Fit!

Do not compromise with this element. The perfect black dress will skim and never cling to your body and will emphasize all of your best assets.

Keep it Classic, Keep It Simple

If you are going to spend the time required to find the perfect black dress, make sure to invest in a classic cut. Sheath cuts, V-necklines and simple seaming will last for years outperform every passing fad.

Emphasize Your Best Assets

Long Legs – Cut the hemline just above the knee to showcase how long and shapely they really are

Shoulders – choose an ‘off the shoulder’ number

Décolletage – wear a scooped or vneck to show off your beautiful skin

Arms – GO sleeveless, even consider long gloves to emphasize your firm upper arms

Deemphasize The “Not So Great” Parts Of Your Physique

Short Legs – Make sure the hemline falls above the knee.

Flat Chest – Find a style with ruching, layers or patterning near the breast line.

Sloped Shoulders – Choose ¾ or long sleeves. Avoid scooped necklines.

Mottled décolletage – Consider a low-cut back as a sophisticated alternative.

Flabby Upper Arms – Forget sleeveless, consider capped sleeves if they fall below your problem area or keep it safe and choose ¾ or long sleeves.

Choose Knee Length
The best length for this dress is knee length. It is a timeless hemline that will keep your dress current even while hemlines rise and fall. Cut your hemline at the skinny part of your knee to emphasize the curve. If your knees do not have a skinny part, raise or lower the hemline to emphasize either the knee itself (slightly above) or the calf (just below the knee and above where the natural curve begins).
Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:

San Diego Professional Organizer

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New Business Casual Policy, No Jeans


A reader asks:

Dear Kathi,

I am 48 years of age and usually wear jeans to work but, now there is a change and I have to dress casual, no jeans. The only thing is, we do not control the heat or air conditioning in our office so in the winter it is so hot that we have to have a fan on and in the summer it is cold. How can I dress nice so I am not hot or too cold?

Trish, Milwaukee

Hi Trish,

The answer to your question Layer, layer, layer!

There are several lightweight sweater fabrics now on the market. I wear sometimes 2-3 at a time and then take them off or put them on throughout the day as I go in and out of different client environments. Buy different sleeve lengths and you can layer at whim. The bottom layer is best as a sleeveless shell.

The trick to layering is to watch the necklines. They should not compete with each other. Solid colors are the easiest to combine. If you choose to wear a print, keep it simple, in the same general color family as the other layers and only use it for one layer.

Another secret weapon would be the ‘shirt jacket’. These “pseudo” jackets are shirts that you can wear over other shirts or lightweight sweaters. These usually are button fronts with long sleeves and shirttail hems in solid colors. Try keeping one of these or a solid color lightweight suit coat jacket at work to throw on when the cool air hits.

Perhaps you can exchange your jeans with dressy corduroy or even tweed slacks? If you find the perfect fit, you will be surprised how much more comfortable dress slacks are in contrast to jeans. Make sure to take the time to buy the perfect fit in better fabrics for the most comfortable all-day wear. Tweed slacks are great because they do not show wrinkles and are classic style. There are lightweight tweeds as well as heavier tweed fabric with lining depending on the season.

During the summer, perhaps you can keep a pair of socks in your desk to slip on when the AC is cranked up. At the end of the day, you can take them off before you leave. The trick will be to find shoes that you can wear with or without socks. Flat mules might be useful but please wear them only with slacks.

Good luck finding a new style at work and be cool!
Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Dressing for job interview


A reader asks:

I have a job interview in late August for a marketing position in the healthcare field. I’m not sure how to dress for it in the hot weather. I am confident on how to dress for interviews in the cooler months but summer stumps me. Most of my interview pants and blazers are darker colors and I’m so used to wearing sandals all summer. What colors are good to wear and are dressy sandals acceptable?

Amy Spindler
Grand Rapids, Michigan


Sandals are probably not appropriate attire in the health care industry, especially during a job interview You can, however, wear sling back pumps with a heel. I would also advise against mules for interviews. They can be sloppy and don’t fare well with panty hose.

A dark colored suit is a safe choice for interviews. For the summer, you can punch up a dark suit with a brightly colored blouse and even colored shoes or bag. Shoes and bag do not need to match as long as they coordinate with the rest of your outfit. Make sure that you look like you are ready to get down to business with every clothing item pressed and neat.

Check that your collar is neatly in place especially if you are wearing two, your blouse and your suit coat. Spend a few extra moments on your hair to make it well coifed. Check your nails. Clear gloss or French manicure is the most appropriate, avoid reds and bright nail colors. Keep bright accent colors in your shoes or bag.

Carry a crisp all-purpose bag or briefcase to the interview equipped with a pen, paper and schedule book to write any important details or instructions. Crisp implies that this bag will stand upright without crumpling over when it is placed on the floor beside your interview chair. All-purpose bags are the new women’s alternative to a briefcase. These bags look like purses but are large enough to hold 8.5 x 11 file folders and papers and sometimes even a laptop.

If you know what your interviewer will be wearing or what the other managers in your department wear daily, dress accordingly. You will want to appear to be one of their staff during the interview. Aspire to dress as well as the head of marketing for your interview and they will perceive you as a go-getter with true management potential!

Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:

San Diego Professional Organizer

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